You guys remember that shaman in the last two episodes of Big. Well I think she might have some competition because my soothsaying abilities are right up there with her. My mystery cracking theory turns out to be right, but that’s only the tip of the iceberg. While I love how the Hong Sisters have tried to delve into the emotional burden of a kid being in the body of an adult, showing Kyung Jae’s emotional toil as well as his resilience is hanging in there until things can switch back, what owns me in Big is watching Da Ran and Kyung Jae fall in love. This is a process that would equally be as compelling even if the drama didn’t have the soul swap hijinks, because ultimately I feel the connection between them that is sweet and heartwarming.
Episode 9 recap:
Kyung Jae and Da Ran drive to the hospital, having chucked the honeymoon plans. Kyung Jae explains to Da Ran that he clearly felt his soul return to his own body for a short few seconds of time. In the hospital, the nurses come in and find Kyung Joon’s body on the ground. He’s rushed to get a CAT scan with Se Young as the attending physician.
Kyung Jae and Da Ran run into Kyung Joon’s hospital room and find the bed empty. They are running around the hospital when they see Kyung Joon being wheeled out, still unconscious. Kyung Jae’s hopes fall since nothing has changed. Se Young walks out and wonders why they are here? Da Ran makes the excuse that they came for another medical situation.
Kyung Jae asks about Kyung Joon and is told that his body was found on the ground, but a CAT scan reveals nothing has changed and his body hasn’t regained consciousness either. Se Young notes that Da Ran and Kyung Jae obviously aren’t going on their honeymoon. She offers to call Yoon Jae directly if anything changes with Kyung Joon, since he’s so curious about this particular patient. Kyung Jae tells her that it’s no necessary, he’ll find out himself.
Kyung Joon’s uncle and aunt arrive and ask Se Young what the deal is with Dr. Seo’s interest in Kyung Joon. Once they are alone, the aunt still thinks Dr. Seo is keeping tabs on Kyung Joon to get payment for saving Kyung Joon’s life.
Outside the hospital, Da Ran is relieved that they didn’t go on the vacation because what if the switch happened then. She would have been so happy on vacation. He asks if she was happy to go with him, which she demurs and says he’s currently in Yoon Jae’s body. So Kyung Jae gets annoyed, saying it would have been best if the souls switched during the vacation. Then Da Ran would happily hold Yoon Jae’s hand to walk the Great Wall.
Da Ran says if that happened, she would be worried about Kyung Joon, how could she be having fun. He asks if she’s disappointed the souls didn’t switch back? They huff at each other and each decides to go on their own vacation. Kyung Jae pulls off all the wedding frippery on the car and then drives off, while Da Ran has grabbed her suitcase and walks off. They tell each other not to call! In the car, Kyung Jae looks at Da Ran’s guidebook for China and then chucks it into the back seat.
Mari is outside of Kyung Jae’s house with all her belongings, looking at her cell phone background which is a photoshopped wedding picture of herself and Kyung Joon. She asks Kyung Jae not to marry Gil Teacher. In Mari’s heart, she always believed Kyung Joon would marry her. She sighs, saying that even if Kyung Jae married Da Ran, it’s in the form of Yoon Jae’s body. In Mari’s mind, Kyung Joon’s heart will be married to her. Delusional much, little lady?
Ae Kyung and Teacher Na go out to dinner, with him treating her for all the help she’s given him in pursuing Da Ran. He treats her to as much beer as she wants to drink.
Kyung Jae goes home and walks into his darkened living room. Suddenly a door opens on the second floor and a long-haired woman in white walks out. It’s all eerie horror movie music and creepy voices, and Kyung Jae finds a talisman. He looks up and sees this phantom figure staring down at him, and then cue the blood curdling screams.
Of course it was just trespasser extraordinaire Mari, who has taken breaking and entering to new heights. She’s happy that he’s back home and didn’t go on his honeymoon, which she chalks up to the talisman working. Mari tells Kyung Jae that she did something else, and Kyung Jae runs upstairs to see that Mari has decorated a room into a shrine to Mari and Kyung Joon. Mari tells Kyung Jae that this is to remind him of the way things ought to be, in case he gets confused. I think you need to get out, Mari. And obviously Kyung Jae feels the same way, as he ushers her out.
Da Ran is hiding out at the jjimjalbang, the place to be when one has no place to go. I wonder why she went to the one her family goes to, because lo and behold, they are there as well. Choong Shik is the first to spot Da Ran but he’s confused since she is supposed to be in China. He calls her and she lies that she’s in China eating Peking duck and drinking Gao Liang wine, so he reveals that he thinks she’s in a jjimjalbang eating an egg. Da Ran covers her head and rushes off, with Choong Shik in pursuit, and she shakes him by running into the ladies changing room.
Kyung Jae sits at home and looks at Da Ran’s China guidebook. He flips to a page with the picture of the Great Wall. He draws a stick figure of Da Ran on the Great Wall, fulfilling her dream to walk on it. He then draws a stick figure of himself next to her, holding her hand. He thinks it would have been so nice to walk on the Great Wall with her and holding hands. You and me both, Kyung Jae, you and me both.
But Kyung Jae sighs, saying that the person with Da Ran on the Great Wall would be Yoon Jae, not the real him, and Da Ran’s smile wouldn’t be for him. Oh baby, she’s totally smiling for you! Kyung Jae wonders why Da Ran isn’t home yet, did she really go to China? He walks outside to look for her in case she’s coming home.
The Gil family is driving home and Choong Shik thinks he sees Yoon Jae on the street. His parents think Choong Shik has taken to seeing things, but the family confirms Choong Shik is right and their Seo son-in-law is in fact still in Seoul and not in China.
Kyung Jae goes back to the Gil house and explains that he was called to the hospital for an urgent medical matter so Da Ran went to China by herself. The family accepts this excuse. Kyung Jae says Da Ran didn’t ditch him, he told her to go. Choong Shik reveals that he thought he saw Da Ran at a jjimjalbang.
Kyung Jae calls Da Ran, who wonders why he’s calling since didn’t they agree not to call each other during this time. He asks if she’s in China? Or is she at a jjimjalbang? She wonders how he knew where she is. He tells her that he’s at her family’s house. She worries that he got caught. He says the family thinks she’s in China and he’s covering for her. She worries that he’s gotten yelled at.
Kyung Jae sits down to dinner with the Gil family and Mom ladles him a bowl of soup. She says its refreshing but Kyung Jae says its super spicy. Wouldn’t it masochistic to describe spicy food as refreshing? The food is hot and spicy and not what a teenager like Kyung Jae enjoys. When Mom offers to make them something else, turns out Choong Shik and Kyung Jae both want a simple fried egg. The parents compliment Yoon Jae and put down Da Ran, which annoys Kyung Jae. He naturally insults himself and tells the parents to stop putting Yoon Jae on a pedestal. He’s not all that amazing, he just plays with kids at the hospital and now doesn’t have much money after buying the house.
Se Young sits with Yoon Jae’s mom, who reveals that she has to head back to the US because an urgent matter come up. Se Young reveals that Yoon Jae was in the hospital today, and asking about a patient name Kang Kyung Joon. Yoon Jae’s mom looks confused and then a light bulb goes off. Yoon Jae’s mom finds out that the patient is a high school boy who has no parents.
Yoon Jae’s mom calls Yoon Jae’s dad and asks what “that child’s” name is? Yoon Jae’s dad is looking at a picture of Kyung Joon’s mom, and replies that Hee Seok’s son’s name is Kyung Joon, Kang Kyung Joon. Dad says she might not want to think about Kyung Joon, but he can’t do that. Yoon Jae’s mom says that she doesn’t care about he does, she will never go bring that boy back, and then hangs up the phone. She turns and stares at the Miracle book, wondering if Yoon Jae already found that boy?
Kyung Joon’s aunt and uncle are in Kyung Joon’s hospital room, wondering why he doesn’t wake up. Uncle is worried that the restaurant is failing and wants Kyung Joon to wake up and take care of his own inheritance. He doesn’t want to lose all of Kyung Joon’s mom’s hard earned money. Aunt mentions how Kyung Joon’s mom saved up all that money to raise Kyung Joon.
Kyung Jae is in Da Ran’s room and he calls her, saying Yoon Jae’s mom found out they didn’t go on the honeymoon and wants to see him tomorrow. He tells her that he’s sleeping in her room tonight, and the room has the same personality as her. He tells her that her mom prepared a snack for him, and gave him a bottle of ginseng wine aged twenty years. He asks what she’s doing and she says that she’s getting ready to eat a bowl of instant noodles. Kyung Jae tells her not to eat that because it’s his and to wait for him, he’ll be right there. He packs up the food that Da Ran’s mom made for him to snack on.
Kyung Jae holds the bag of food under his arms and starts running back to his house. He runs with this smile on his face that just makes my heart thrum with happiness. I can watch him run towards Da Ran forever and ever. Da Ran walks outside to wait for him by the front gate. She steps up and down on the door ledge, a sign of anticipation as she looks around.
When Da Ran sees Kyung Jae run up, all out of breath, she smiles. He smiles at her and she smiles right back. He hands her the bag of food and lies that he was going to throw it away, but she can eat it if she wants to. He hands her the food and moves to go back to her house, but she stops him.
Da Ran and Kyung Jae sit in the kitchen, with her eating and him keeping her company. Da Ran eats and then takes a sip of the wine. Kyung Jae wants to take it back with him, since it’s older than he is and he’s worried that if Da Ran drinks it, she’ll get drunk and take advantage of him. She wants to keep it with her and drink it every day. Kyung Jae calls the bottle of wine “hyung-nim”, which is adorable, and warns it about the “noona” that wants to take advantage of it. If Da Ran has too much “energy”, then he doesn’t have the confidence to keep her at bay.
Kyung Jae leaves since he still needs to sneak back into Da Ran’s room. Da Ran walks him out and he is happy to think she might go back with him. Da Ran tells him she just wanted to walk him out. He walks away and then turns back, asking her to come by the house tomorrow and collect him. She smiles and says she’ll think about it. He walks away and tells her that she has to come.
Ae Kyung has gotten drunk and Teacher Na piggybacks her home. When she gets off his back, she tosses the bouquet at him and says strike. He doesn’t get that she likes him and thinks she’s upset at him.
Kyung Jae goes back to Da Ran’s mom. She sends him a text telling him to read a book or listen to music if he’s bored. If he’s okay, then she’ll come pick him up tomorrow. Kyung Jae finds a box containing Da Ran’s mementos of Yoon Jae. He sifts through the box, seeing pictures and the pink couple sock. He sighs, telling the ahjusshi to come back soon, otherwise he won’t want to leave.
Yoon Jae’s mom goes to Kyung Joon’s hospital room late at night. She tentatively walks up to him. She didn’t get to see him when he was born, and she can’t believe she’s seeing him for the first time now. She looks sad and reaches out to stroke his cheek but stops before she touches him. She turns and leaves.
Choong Shik and Mari are hanging out and she finds out from him that Da Ran and Kyung Jae didn’t go on their honeymoon. This makes Mari happy and she offers to deduct more pans, but Choong Shik keeps trying to prolong their pan debt and tells her to use deduct one.
Kyung Jae goes to the hospital and finds out from nurse that an older woman who appears quite wealthy came by last night to visit his body. Mari runs in all excited, having heard that Kyung Joon’s body appeared to have moved yesterday. She asks if he’s about to come back?
Kyung Jae wants to get his things back from his uncle so he and Mari go to his uncle’s restaurant. Turns out the restaurant looks identical to Kyung Joon’s mom’s restaurant in LA (which is named Miracle), but this restaurant barely has any customers. Kyung Joon’s uncle and aunt see Dr. Seo with Mari and try to hide from him.
Kyung Jae offers to tells Kyung Joon’s uncle the name of the Russian chef who cooked for Kyung Joon’s mom, in exchange for Kyung Joon’s belongings. Mari asks later if Kyung Jae told his uncle on purpose, and Kyung Jae confirms that he can’t let his uncle run the restaurant to the ground. Smart puppy! Mari wants to go back to Kyung Jae’s house with him afterwards but he forestalls her, saying he needs to go meet with Yoon Jae’s mom. Kyung Jae smiles like a doofus, telling Mari that he’s waiting at the Gil house for Da Ran to come back from China and pick him up.
Kyung Jae goes to meet with Yoon Jae’s mom, who reveals she’s going back to the US. Yoon Jae’s mom asks why Kyung Jae is keeping tabs on a patient named Kang Kyung Joon, and if Kyung Jae knows that boy from before? Kyung Jae says he only met him after the accident, which appears to be a relief to Yoon Jae’s mom. She reveals that Yoon Jae was looking for someone before the accident and memory loss, but Kyung Jae brushes it aside and says he’s not interested in anything before the accident. Mom hopes that Yoon Jae will never meet that person, even if by accident.
Kyung Joon’s uncle and the Vice Principal both go to the mandoo store and run into each other. They both think Da Ran’s parents must regret marrying each other, to try to convince themselves that they didn’t lose out. But Da Ran’s parents are very loving towards each other still.
Mari goes with Choong Shik to Da Ran’s room. She sees the box of Yoon Jae things, which makes her happy as it confirms how much Da Ran likes Yoon Jae. There is a box of girly magazines in there which Choong Shik immediately says belongs to Da Ran since this is her room.
Da Ran comes home and pretends she came back from China early. Her mom chastises her for leaving Yoon Jae behind to go on a trip. Da Ran says she’s going back to his house. Da Ran gives Choong Shik some tea as a present. Mari tells Da Ran that Kyung Jae met with Yoon Jae’s mom. Da Ran calls Kyung Jae and says she’s on her way home. Mari hands Da Ran the box of Yoon Jae items and tells her to take it with her as a reminder for Da Ran not to forget Yoon Jae. Da Ran calls Kyung Jae, telling him to go straight home and she’ll meet him there. Da Ran opens the box, saying that she forget she kept it all there.
Da Ran comes home and wonders what all the things in the house are? Kyung Jae explains that he got his old things back from his uncle. Kyung Jae sees the box of Yoon Jae things that Da Ran brought with her and asks if she went home to that pick that up? He wants to move all of Yoon Jae’s things out of his room because there is no space for his own things. When Da Ran protests, he gets upset and just grabs Yoon Jae’s things and tosses it in Da Ran’s room.
Da Ran and Kyung Jae fight over Yoon Jae’s things, especially when Da Ran notices the walkman is broken after Kyung Jae dumps the contents of the box out. Kyung Jae claims that it was already broken, and admits that he already looked at the box when he slept in her room last night. He says they ought to live their own lives then and not interact.
Kyung Jae tells Da Ran that he’s not really a member of her family. The person who is now a member of her family is Seo Yoon Jae. Kyung Jae goes to his room and stands against the wall and sighs. Da Ran looks really solemn.
The next morning, Da Ran brings Kyung Jae a fresh squeezed juice but he doesn’t want it. She cleans but Kyung Jae doesn’t help. She makes him a fried egg with ketchup and then notices that he’s left the house.
Kyung Jae goes to the hospital and Yoon Jae’s co-worker comes by with two tickets to a show to thank Kyung Jae for writing a medical report for him. He tells Kyung Jae to hurry up and come back to work. He tells Kyung Jae to take Da Ran. Back at the high school, the Vice Principal tells Ae Kyung to set her up on a matseon date.
Choong Shik finds Mari with two movie tickets and asks her to go with him. Mari likes the tickets and takes them both, obviously to go with someone else.
Kyung Jae sits in the pediatric ward playroom with the two patients Rabbit and Teddy Bear (his nicknames for them). He watches them play house, Teddy Bear rejects all of Rabbit play food offerings. Kyung Jae tells Teddy Bear to play with her but he says it’s too childish. When Da Ran calls and tells him to come home because she’s making a bread pizza for him, he’s still annoyed with her and says he won’t eat it. Teddy Bear says adults shouldn’t talk like that. Kyung Jae admits that he’s as immature as Teddy Bear. So cute!
Kyung Jae goes to buy bread to take home, and when he goes home, he sees that Da Ran has set up all of Kyung Joon’s things around the house and washed all his laundry. LOL, she really is setting up house with Kyung Joon. This makes him so happy.
He leaves one show ticket under a bag of bread. He calls Da Ran and says he left something he didn’t want under the bag of bread. After ending the call, he rationalizes to himself that if Da Ran found it and went to the show with him, then so be it. He smiles happily. Kyung Jae notices the broken Yoon Jae walkman on the table and he takes it to get repaired. Da Ran finds the ticket and is happy to go since otherwise it’ll be “thrown away”. She puts on a pretty dress and gets ready to go out.
Mari arrives at Kyung Jae’s house and takes notice of Kyung Joon’s clothes drying out in the yard. As Da Ran is heading out to the show, she runs in Mari with two movie tickets. Mari asks to switch with Da Ran, saying that she wants to go with Kyung Jae. Mari reminds Da Ran that she likes Yoon Jae, and shouldn’t want to go with Kyung Jae. Da Ran has no choice but to switch tickets with her, rationalizing to herself that Kyung Jae would have more fun with Mari. Grrrrr.
Kyung Jae waits for Da Ran at the lobby of the theater. He listens to the fixed walkman and hears that its just recordings of boring lessons for Da Ran to study and pass her teacher’s exam.
Yoon Jae’s mom calls Yoon Jae’s dad to tell him that she’s going back to the US. She doesn’t care about “that child”. She doesn’t know anything about Kang Kyung Joon. Kang Kyung Joon is not her son, all she knows is that Yoon Jae is her son. That child was born to save her Yoon Jae, and that is the extent of it. Se Young overhears this conversation.
Kyung Jae’s face falls when Mari arrives. She reveals that she gave Da Ran movie tickets in exchange for this show ticket and she’s here to watch the show with him. Kyung Jae decides to leave, he didn’t want to watch the show to begin. He wanted to use this as an excuse to apologize to Da Ran and give her something that he fixed.
Kyung Jae walks away, leaving Mari standing there alone. Mari looks at his back and asking sadly if he really likes Gil Teacher?
Da Ran is outside the movie theater with the two tickets from Mari. She wonders why she’s feeling so sad even though she didn’t really want to see the show? Is it because she’s not going with Kyung Jae? Suddenly Kyung Jae walks up beside her and asks if she’s happy that he’s here. These were not the tickets he threw away, so why is she here? Da Ran lights up with a beaming smile as she stares at him. She doesn’t answer so he says he’ll leave if she’s not happy but she grabs his arm. He looks at the movie ticket and says that this movie isn’t his type.
Kyung Jae shows Da Ran the fixed walkman and they listen to the tape with an ear bud in each of their ears. She keeps smiling and staring at him, so he asks why she’s responding like this? She says its because she’s happy, she’s really happy. He means the walkman is fixed, but she’s thinking something else. She says she’s really happy. He puts both ear buds in his ear to listen. Da Ran stares at him and says she’s so odd, why is she’s this happy that he showed up?
Thoughts of Mine:
I’m positive Kyung Jae didn’t hear what Da Ran said at the very end of this episode, but we all heard it, and Da Ran definitely is on the right track in terms of assessing her own feelings. It’s not necessary for the two of them to declare everlasting love for each other right now, and they are nowhere close to that point. What they have is the early stages of emotional stirrings for each other, and the whiff of incipient love in the air makes me heady. If only someone could ship Mari back to the US, then I wouldn’t have to deal with her interjecting herself at the most inconvenient times. Even with Mari’s interference, I’m loving how Kyung Jae is so direct with both Mari (towards Kyung Joon) and Se Young (towards Yoon Jae). Third wheels are only as effective as their intended target allows them to be, and here Mari and Se Young are going up against a brick wall.
Nine episodes in, Big is pretty much a love it/hate it proposition. It’s not as polarizing as other dramas with similar dichotomies, but I get both sides of the continuum. For folks who find the pace draggy with the lack of fast-whizzing plot leaps of the old Hong Sisters of yore, that’s a valid observation. Yet I’ve completely fallen for the mellow pace of this drama, the breathing room to allow Da Ran and Kyung Jae to grow before our eyes and understandably fall in love. My mind doesn’t just buy their growing affection, I actually feel it and see it happening before me. A drama needs to slow down for that to come across, and I’m thrilling in every moment of the ordinary moments like eating a meal or talking on the phone.
I see that the drama has failed to do much with the characters and story outside of the OTP. A lot of subplots feel superficial and shoehorned in for a purpose but not really anything material. Kyung Joon’s uncle and the Vice Principal’s respective crushes on the Gil parents, Ae Kyung and Teacher Na’s cute but ancillary interactions, even Choong Shik’s crush on Mari is going nowhere at this stage. None of the characters are changing aside from Da Ran and Kyung Jae, which does keep the drama from feeling like a complete story. I find side characters to be a weakness in a lot of Hong Sisters dramas, so Big isn’t that much different. But if the viewer doesn’t like the OTP here, then there is nothing else to sustain the interest.
The big mystery in Big finally gets revealed in this episode. Ta Da, Yoon Jae and Kyung Joon appear to be half-brothers, and Kyung Joon was important in saving Yoon Jae’s life. This explains why Yoon Jae’s mom feels some concern for Kyung Joon, but at the same time wants to keep the two guys apart. I’m wondering if Kyung Joon was conceived to save Yoon Jae, or Yoon Jae’s dad had an affair and Kyung Joon happened to be a match for whatever Yoon Jae needed. I was never all that fixated on the mystery to begin with, instead what I love are the character development and interactions between Da Ran and Kyung Jae. With this reveal, that leaves an even bigger question out there. Where is Yoon Jae’s soul, and will Kyung Joon ever go back to his own body? These questions do matter, but right now all I know is that Da Ran and Kyung Jae bring brilliant smiles to each other’s faces when they are together. That is the hallmark of a precious and perfect OTP for me.